Rocky Warner Flies Around Fonda Speedway To Take First Modified Win Of 2023 Saturday
Story By: RON SZCZERBA / FONDA SPEEDWAY – FONDA, NY – Supply Wagon Rentals presented a six-division racing program at the “Track of Champions” Fonda Speedway on Saturday evening, and it was like a story book ending for Rocky Warner who captured the win in the Amsterdam Truck Center Modifieds.
It was his ninth career win at the track, this one coming in the Tadd Parks owned #1, and also coming on car owner Tadd Parks son Layne’s birthday who was the first one in victory lane to congratulate Rocky.
“I’m a little emotional,” Warner said in FX Caprara Car Companies Victory Lane. “Ya know, driving for Tadd Parks, he had Stewy (Stewart Friesen) in his car and they won everything under the sun. There is a lot of pressure, and I finally got it done. Special thanks goes out to Tadd Parks, that goes without saying but also to Jason Simmons who gave us this motor to use. Happy Birthday to Layne, what better way to spend it than here in victory lane.”
Other winners on Supply Wagon Rentals Night at Fonda were Payton Talbot (Swagger Factory Apparel Crate 602 Sportsman), Kenny Gates (Below Zero Ice Cream Pro Stocks), Zack Welch (Montgomery County Office for Aging Inc. Limited Sportsman), Ken Hollenback (SOHC Fonda Fair Four Cylinder), Brandon Ely (DOHC Fonda Fair Four Cylinder), and Shawn Donath (ESS Sprints).
Pastor Greg Nitz started opening ceremonies with a prayer followed by a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem by Shelby Wadsworth. The 50/50 girls worked hard all evening to get a huge $3010 50/50 together which was won by Clayton from Fonda.
The 30-lap Amsterdam Truck Center Modified feature began with Danny Varin and Alex Yankowski on the front row with Varin taking the early lead. Varin stretched out his lead early in the event, but Yankowski reeled him in by lap seven and briefly took the lead in turn one until the lap car of Kurtis Hohensheldt blocked his lane allowing Varin to retake the position. Yankowski was held up by Hohensheldt allowing Varin to get the lead back going down the backstretch and stretching out his advantage going into turn three.
Defending Track Champion Matt DeLorenzo started the event in the seventh position and by lap 12 he was the new third place car after getting by Dave Constantino for the spot. DeLorenzo and Constantino swapped positions a couple of times and at the halfway point in the event the top five consisted of Varin, Yankowski, Constantino, DeLorenzo, and ninth place starter Rocky Warner. Yankowsi moved back in on the leading car of Varin by lap 18 while DeLorenzo and Warner both got by Constantino for the third and fourth positions.
Yankowski made his move to get by Varin for the lead on lap 19 on the inside of the backstretch and maintained the lead until a melee ensued in between turns one and two involving many cars who just kept piling into each other due to what was thought to be moisture from either another car or that was thrown up on to the groove from the inside of turn one after heavy rains all week long. The red flag was thrown with the top two cars of Yankowski and Varin both involved forcing Varin to retire from the event with heavy damage to his car while Yankowski restarted as the last car on the lead lap.
“I’ll tell you what I always watch way ahead,” Warner said. “My dad taught me that a long time ago. I looked down there into turn one and see guys piling in and I hit that water a few times and it cost me.”
Warner was able to get through the wreck and took over the lead on the restart with DeLorenzo now second and trying everything he could to get around Warner for the victory. That never happened as Warner went on to his ninth career Modified win at Fonda in the Parks Companies #1. DeLorenzo, Gleason, 15th place starter Demetrios Drellos, and 12th place starter Bobby Hackel completed the top five.
“Matty showed me his nose on the outside with one to go and I said oh no you gotta be kidding me,” Warner told Mimi Lazzaro in victory lane. “No way, no way, I kept saying to myself. So, then I tried to use the whole racetrack, RJ (Ronnie Johnson) taught me that a long time ago. I had to do what I had to do.”
The 25-lap Swagger Factory Apparel Crate 602 Sportsman feature began with Brett Mortensen and Chad Edwards on the front row with Edwards taking the early lead. Defending Track Champion Peyton Talbot started the event in the seventh position and by lap three he was the new third place car. Talbot got by Brett Mortensen for the second position one lap later and on a lap five restart took the lead away from Edwards.
On the restart, sixth place starter Mark Mortensen moved up to the third position with Talbot out to a straightaway advantage by lap ten. Lap 12 saw Mark Mortensen get by Edwards for the second position with Talbot now into lap traffic. At the halfway point, Talbot, Mark Mortensen, Edwards, ninth place starter Clayton DuMond, and 11th place starter Chip Constantino completed the top five. On a lap 13 restart, there was an eight-car pileup on the front stretch with Kadon Hohensheldt ending up on his roof. All drivers were okay after the incident.
On every restart, Mark Mortensen tried everything he could to get by the leader, both inside and outside, until being forced out of the event with a flat right rear tire after a bead lock broke on the wheel. Through two more restarts, Talbot held the lead and went on to his second win of 2023 and the sixth of his career in the division in the Ted’s Body Shop #14T followed by Edwards, DuMond, 12th place starter Butchie Irwin, and 19th place starter Troy Zilles.
“This car was pretty good,” Talbot told Mimi Lazzaro in victory lane. “I was hoping that the car wasn’t gonna break going into turn one, it was a little choppy there on the bottom of turn one. I saw Mark (Mortensen) under me a couple of times and then I saw his on the outside of me, so I just kept trying to switch lanes and keep him behind me.”
Pole position starter Josh Coonradt led the first six laps of the 20-lap Below Zero Ice Cream Pro Stock feature until AJ Walters got around him for the lead on the inside of turns three and four. Fourth place starter Andy Graves moved into the second position after he also got by Coonradt with ninth place starter Kenny Gates now the third-place car.
Gates took the second position away from Graves at the halfway point and two laps later on the inside of turns three and four got by Walters for the lead. Gates drove away from that point on to his 87th career win in the division in the Happy Returns/Palmer’s Service sponsored #35 with Graves, opening nights winner Ivan Joslin, Walters, and 15th place starter Shane Playford completing the top five.
“I love this coil car,” Gates said in victory lane. “I just wanted it to be even for everybody but last year you could see how hard we were driving and how much better they (coil cars) were so it’s like get one or get out, so we got one.”
The 15-lap Montgomery County Office for Aging Inc. Limited Sportsman feature saw a 13-year-old win in his first ever visit to the “Track of Champions” and he chose a great night to do it as the win was worth $500 after a $400 bonus from Cobleskill Collision. Zack Welch started on the pole after winning his heat race and redrawing for the starting position and led every lap to get the win. Timmy Wilmot, opening day winner Connor Prokop, Bobby Rhinehardt, and Kyle Dingman completed the top five.
“The car felt great,” first time winner Welch said. “It was my first time here and I was a little iffy, but the car felt great. I can’t thank Mike Walton, Peyton Talbot, Tyler, and my dad for setting up this car and making it so fast.”
The Fonda Fair Four Cylinder feature was an entertaining event just as it was on opening day with the same players again part of the drama. Brandon Eley led at the start from his outside front row position start with Kerrie Hollenback second. Hollenback intentionally got into Ely going into turn one on lap eight, with the two ending up in the dirt pile in turn two. Ely had enough and got out of his car to show his displeasure to Hollenback but then got back in his car and restarted the event at the rear of the field.
Ken Hollenback assumed the lead at that point and led the remaining laps for his first win of the season and the 86th of his career in the division at Fonda. Ely got all the way back up to the second position and was declared the DOHC winner. John Napoli, Jon Mason, and Justin Ramsey completed the top five.
“How do you like that,” Ely said in victory lane with cheers coming from the crowd. “Rough racing from typical rough racers. I do what I can to come here and put on a good show, we almost got them two weeks ago, but we got them this time.”
“Everyone thinks I’m cheating motor wise,” Ken Hollenback said after the overall win. “Bring your money and tear me down I don’t really care. I’m not cheating like some cars are.”
The Empire Super Sprints (ESS) are celebrating their 40-year anniversary in 2023 and they made their first visit of the season to Fonda with Fonda favorite Danny Varin leading at the start of the 25-lap event. Varin led through four caution flags until lap 22 when fifth place starter Shawn Donath got by him on the outside of turns three and four.
Donath went on to his first career ESS win at Fonda followed in the top five by Varin, Matt Tanner, Jordan Poirier, and Davie Franek.
“He’s so damn good here,” Donath said of Varin. “I’m surprised we beat him he just seems invincible here. I’m super stoked, the car was bad ass, and I was lucky to wheel the thing.”
“We just got lucky where we started,” Varin said. “We just weren’t that good all night. I’ve got some homework to do because it just didn’t feel right all night, didn’t feel good enough to hold anybody off. He (Donath) earned it, he drove right around us so hats off to him.”
Next Saturday, Holmes & Kugler Towing presents $1 Night with a $1 grandstand admission. All divisions will be in action with racing starting at 7:00 p.m.
AMSTERDAM TRUCK CENTER MODIFIED FEATURE – 30-LAPS – ROCKY WARNER, Matt DeLorenzo, Brian Gleason, Demetrios Drellos, Bobby Hackel IV, Cody Clark, Alex Yankowski, Josh Hohenforst, Chris Curtis, Tucker O’Connor, David Schilling, Jack Lehner, JaMike Sowle, Shawn McPhee, Ron Holmes, Danny Varin, Dave Constantino, Brian Calabrese, Ronnie Johnson, Bobby Varin, Dave Camara, Josh Masterson, Kurtis Hohensheldt, Dylan Scribner, Pep Corradi, Dale Gray, Brian Pessolano
1st win of 2023 and the 9th of his career in the division at Fonda for Warner.
LAP LEADERS – 1-18 Danny Varin, 19-25 Yankowski, 26-30 Warner
HEAT RACE WINNERS – Gleason, Yankowski, DeLorenzo
SWAGGER FACTORY APPAREL CRATE 602 SPORTSMAN FEATURE – 25-LAPS – PAYTON TALBOT, Chad Edwards, Clayton DuMond, Butchie Irwin, Troy Zilles, Chip Constantino, Brendan Gibbons, Michael McCallion, Brett Mortensen, Stephen Gray, Jeremy Tyrrell, Jason Greco, Harry Shaffer, Blaine Klinger, Mark Mortensen, Don Bellen, Tanner Warner, Matt Perry, Dan Santabarbara, Bubba McPhee, Kadon Hohensheldt, Josh Kane, Derrick McGrew Jr., Aaron Burton, Jason Reome
2nd win of 2023 and the 6th of his career in the division at Fonda for Talbot.
LAP LEADERS – 1-4 Edwards, 5-25 Talbot
HEAT RACE WINNERS – Constantino, McGrew Jr., Kane
CONSOLATION RACE WINNERS – Zilles
DID NOT QUALIFY – Brent Cross, Dylan Eldred, Zach Dufel, Clyde Peek, Gerard LeClair, Bob Rowback, Kathy Bellen
GRECO’S NAPA HARD CHARGER AWARD – Zilles 19th to 5th
BELOW ZERO ICE CREAM PRO STOCK FEATURE – 20-LAPS – KENNY GATES, Andy Graves, Ivan Joslin, AJ Walters, Shane Playford, Josh Coonradt, Caden Dumblewski, Beau Ballard, Jason Morrison, Gary Silkey, Kyle Weiler, Joe Wilason, Michael Achzet, Luke Horning, Randy Cosselman, Jim Normoyle, Slater Baker, Chucky Dumblewski, Jim Duncan DNS
1st win of 2023 and the 87th of his career in the division for Gates.
LAP LEADERS – 1-6 Coonradt, 7-11 Walters, 12-20 Gates
HEAT RACE WINNERS – Morrison, Horning
MONTGOMERY COUNTY OFFICE FOR AGING INC. LIMITED SPORTSMAN FEATURE – 15-LAPS – $500 TO WIN THANKS TO A $400 BONUS FROM COBLESKILL COLLISION – ZACH WELCH, Timmy Wilmot, Connor Prokop, Bobby Rhinehardt, Kyle Dingman, Johnny DuMond, AJ Greco, Lance Hill, Mike Hill, Gus Kamberelis, Michael Kalkbrenner, Lucas Duncan, John Anderson, Jonathan Feagles, Steve Wagoner, Dylan Huston, Tyler Bobar, Chris Kugler, Jeff Bobilin, Cian DiMezza DNS, Jim Malia DNS, Dale Van Allen DNS
1st career win in his 1st ever visit to Fonda for Welch.
LAP LEADERS – 1-15 Welch
HEAT RACE WINNERS – $100 BONUS FROM ONLINE PERFORMANCE/STONE MOTORSPORTS TO EACH HEAT RACE WINNER – Welch, Kugler
FONDA FAIR FOUR CYLINDER FEATURE – 12-LAPS – KEN HOLLENBACK (SOHC), BRANDON ELY (DOHC), John Napoli, Jon Mason, Justin Ramsey, David Peek-Britten, Tim Warner, John Ray, Len St. Andrews, Dustin Cameron, Kerrie Hollenback, Wayne Russell Jr., TJ Marlitt, Jack Minery, Zach McSpirit
1st win of 2023 and the 86th of his career in the division for Ken Hollenback.
1st win of 2023 and the 2nd of his career in the division for Ely.
LAP LEADERS – 1-8 Ely, 9-12 Ken Hollenback
CAPTAIN CARL’S LUXURY CRUISES/DONE BETTER POOLS NON-QUALIFIERS RACE FOR SWAGGER FACTORY APPAREL CRATE 602 SPORTSMAN CARS – 15-LAPS – Brent Cross